Dave’s Normandy trek to help veterans

A KEYNSHAM man plans to walk to Normandy to raise money for a war veterans’ charity.

Dave Westall will cover 230 miles in six days in aid of the Spirit of Normandy Trust.

As well as supporting the Normandy veterans, the trust built and maintains the Normandy Memorial near the village of Ver-sur-Mer.

The memorial pays tribute to those who took part in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, which paved the way the Allied victory in the Second World War. Each year, the trust helps many veterans make the journey to the memorial to mark the D-Day anniversary.

Dave said: “This may be the last opportunity for many of them, the youngest being 98 and the oldest 103.”

He was inspired to support the trust by a talk he heard at the Bath & Bristol Armed Forces Breakfast Club, which meets once a month at the Riverside in Salford.

“The chairman of the Spirit of Normandy Trust spoke to us about the charity. He came with Stan Ford, who is one on the veterans who is going to Normandy this year for the 80th anniversary.”

Stan’s account of his experiences on the Normandy beaches all those decades ago struck a chord with Dave.

Dave, 53, said: “Gentlemen of that generation often don’t talk about their experiences, but here I was in a position to help them possibly get some peace and closure before it was too late.

“I then thought, how many veterans would have liked this opportunity to return and show family a little bit about them perhaps that they didn’t know.”

Dave was an adult instructor with the Avon and Bristol Air Cadet Force for more than 30 years. After 22 years working for the Prison Service at HMP Bristol, he left eight years ago to take up a role in the quartermaster department at 7 Military Intelligence Battalion at Horfield.

Dave will set off from the Bristol Horfield Army Reserve Centre on May 30, stopping overnight in Keynsham, Warminster, Salisbury, Southampton and Portsmouth.

He will then catch the night ferry to arrive at Caen on June 5. From there, he will walk to Arnhem and onto the Normandy Meemorial, arriving on June 6.

The next day, after the anniversary commemorations, he plans to meet some of the veterans and hand over a cheque for the amount he has raised.

To sponsor Dave, visit https://www.justgiving.com/page/david-westall-1702980868925

For more information about the Spirit of Normandy trust, visit https://spiritofnormandy.org.uk/